Today, I’m writing as I watch my cat Thistle wash her paw in the bright winter sunlight. It’s not warm, but I’m so happy to see the sun, even if I appreciate it from indoors. Many of my cider friends are traveling to (or already at) Virginia for CiderCon right now. I hope they’ll have safe trips and wonderful times at the conference; the program certainly looks amazing!
If you want to read more about this sold-out event, check out the American Cider Association’s website: https://ciderassociation.org/cidercon2022/
Just because I’m staying home this year, doesn’t mean I’m not still thinking about and loving cider. I’m trying another new-to-me cidery this week: Dutton Cider Co.. I’m pairing a Dutton Cider Co.’s Carbonated Hard Apple Cider with Penzey’s Smoky 4S and the start of Home Fires Season 2. I may not be having the most exciting winter on record, but I’ve got cozy all figured out. My thanks to Dutton Cider Co for sending me samples for review.
Here’s what I was able to find out about Sonoma County’s Dutton Cider.
THE MAKERS Dutton Ranch farms 200 acres of CCOF certified organic apples in addition to 1200 acres of vineyards in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Joe and Tracy Dutton founded Dutton Estate Winery in 1995 and grew up farming apples alongside vineyards. Their combined multi- generational family history inspires the crafting of hard apple cider.
You can learn more about Dutton Estates from the website: https://www.duttonestate.com/
Here’s a bit more information from the cidery about the apples and cider making.
The blending of the beloved local heirloom Gravenstein variety with Golden Delicious fashions the perfect cider... fruit-forward, like biting into fresh apples, with a touch of tartness and sweetness.
"Cold” is the secret to our cider. Cold pressing, cold settling, cold fermenting, and cold storage ensure that crisp apple flavors are retained and acidity is smooth and bright.
This cider has an ABV of 7.4%
Appearance: brilliant, shining, cool toned gold, tiny bubbles
This is a very pretty cider; it seems a shame to hide it in a can! I poured mine into a rocks glass so I could appreciate its brilliant shine and almost cold-toned gold. I barely know how to describe the color; it’s mature yellow with a memory of green like wheat tips. I can see just a few tiny visible bubbles.
Aromas: golden raisins, overripe apples, minerals
Ooh! This cider has some fabulous power in its aromas. The cider smells like overripe apples; the notes are concentrated like golden raisins. I also get a vibrant base of minerals.
This is a sweet to semi-sweet cider. The sweetness is balanced by both bitterness and acidity, but it's definitely integral to the cider.
Flavors and drinking experiences: sweet, green apple, bitter, mineral finish
Dutton Cider Co.'s Carbonated Hard Apple Cider starts with a splash of bright magic acid that makes me think of green apples. The minerals are a bit sharp and the acid feels angular in my mouth. The cider isn’t funky, but it’s profile is different from most high acid and sweet ciders. Perhaps it’s that this cider is also tannic and bitter, but I’m not entirely sure yet.
What an interesting cider. I like how Dutton’s Cider has notes of Maple with a bit of bitterness that fills out the tasting experience. For a sweet cider I was surprised by the minerality of the finish. My co-tasters disagreed about the mouthfeel: hearty vs light. I can understand the divide. Tannic ciders and sweeter ciders can feel full but acidic cider with strong bubbles feel light. This cider is all of those things.
Overall, Dutton’s cider comes across as wonderfully interesting; it's a clean polished cider that definitely has winemakers' roots. It makes for a quite nice pairing with popcorn and excellent TV.